We are highly reactive beings.? A lot of noise. A lot of it is perhaps necessary in order to get along in this world. After all, we need to talk to others, relate, laugh. But what about all that other noise. The noise we create simply because we are conditioned to? Are we even aware of this difference?

The Universe unfolds before us and within a nano-second, there we are – reacting. Laughing, extrapolating, assuming, thinking. These are the benign reactions. Soon after, come our more deadly reactions: judgment, comparison, criticism, name-calls, invalidation (“poor me” or “damn them”), anger, scorn, shame, guilt, denial, etc. Voiced or unvoiced, our minds are constantly producing one reaction after another. Constantly churning. A factory that never stops. Sadly, it is a factory that produces stale and used-goods wrapped in the guise of novelty and authenticity.

There must be some triggers behind our reactions right? After all, we are not senseless. We are intelligent creatures. So what could these triggers be? The triggers stem from our mental conditioning. Our thought patterns. Our beliefs about our self and others.

The reason we react so much is because somewhere, deep within us, we have come to unconsciously believe one of two things: 1) This is just how I am and 2) This is the only way I could respond given how the “other” was behaving or given how the situation was unfolding.

How about if we were to consider, just for a second, that both these thought structures were illusory? Baseless. False?

Let us take the first one: “this is just how I am.” This declaration emerges from an illusion that we are who we are and there is nothing to be done about this. Yes, on some level this is true. We are male or female, tall or short, artistic or not. On the temperamental or core level, our beings express themselves in certain predictable ways. We cannot force ourselves to be athletic if this is something we are naturally not prone towards, nor can we force ourselves to be mathematically astute beyond a certain point if this is not our natural inclination.

I am not speaking about these core-being states. What I am referring to here? is our mental state. Our thought patterns. Our belief systems. It is here that there is infinite potential for change, growth and transformation. It is all about our mental conditioning: how it is we have come to view ourselves and our worlds. This leads to everything else: how we behave, relate, love, and engage with LIFE.

“I am who I am” – without realizing what we mean by this comment is this: I will not examine my thoughts, my assumptions or my reactions. This is just the way it is. ?When we so righteously hold onto a perception of ourselves as THIS or THAT then automatically we begin to deeply attach to the THIS or THAT. Soon we are invested in others responding to Life in the same way. We become controlling. Even more rigid. Soon we enter into the realm of pure dictatorship.

When we live with the “this is just how I am,” what we essentially emit is this message, “I cannot change, I will not change, I see no reason to change and besides, my way is right.” Living in this manner, we shut off Life, we close off possibilities and most importantly, we do not allow ourselves to transform on a deep and fundamental level.

The next assumption we unconsciously marry to is: “well, this is the ONLY way I could have ?reacted.” Again, we are bound by an immediate defensive reaction to Life. This assumption has other tinier, more subtle, deadlier assumptions embedded within: ‘I know that I am right” (certainty, rigidity, arrogance)”, “I couldn’t possibly react any other way” (unimaginative, lazy, giving the green light to the Ego), and bam! the deadliest of all, “My reaction is because of the other person’s fault” or “I have reacted in this way because of the situation before me” (I am an angel and everyone and everything is the devil.)

We will talk more about reactions and whose need they serve in the next few blogs…

For now, can I ask that you simply become aware of when it is your mind says any of the following:

“This is who I am, too bad.”

“It wasn’t my fault.”

“The other person is really to blame.”

“It is because of this situation that I feel this way.”

“Why do I have to change?”

“My opinion is so important.”

“Why isn’t this other person listening to me?”

“I am getting angry right now.”

“Why can’t the other person do it my way?”

“Why does life have to be like this, why can’t it be like that?”

“I? don’t like this, I want it to be another way.”


Becoming aware of the voice in our head is the first step towards change.

Become curious. Investigate. Go within.

Turn the spotlight to your moment-to-moment thoughts.

Become your own mirror.

Dr. Shefali

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